Pia shares role, plans for the 19th Congress

Highlights of Q&A with the Senate Media
24 June 2022, Philippine Senate

Q: What will be your role in the next Congress? Majority or minority?

Senator Pia S. Cayetano (SPSC): Every time there is a new Congress, I always think about what my role will be and how I will serve the Filipino people best. I started as a new senator in 2004, it was the 13th Congress, I was 38 years old, and I became very nostalgic in the last few weeks, remembering my first few years in the Senate. The SP at that time was the Minority Floor Leader now, Sen. Drilon, and among the members of the Senate are all, sadly, the late senators Joker Arroyo, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Juan Flavier, and Miriiam Defensor-Santiago.

So many of you who have been in the news industry would know that they are all legal luminaries, seasoned legislators, and these were the people I learned from. Sa una, nakakatakot. I had my training as a lawyer, and I continue to use that skill to listen before I open my mouth. These are the kinds of people I learned from.

Joker Arroyo, Nene Pimentel, and Juan Flavier were actually my seatmates in different times, so all of them were lawyers, except for Sen. Flavier, who was my mentor because I chaired the Committee on Health in my very first year in the Senate. So, can you imagine sitting beside these people who, when we look back, have not just crafted various laws, but we really look up to as statesmen and stateswomen?

I am always conscious of where I am now compared to where I was then, and I am cognizant of the lessons I learned from them. One time, Joker Arroyo pulled me aside and said to me, “Pia, makinig ka din sa mga debate na boring kasi bakit dinedebate ni ganto si ganyan?” Sabi ko, “Oo nga eh magme-merienda nga sana ako kasi medyo hindi ko gets kung bakit nila pinagdedebatehan.” It was such a simple bill. Sabi niya, “Alam mo kung bakit? May history kasi si ganto kay ganyan, galit kay ganyan. Walang kinalaman sa bill yan, nag-aaway lang sila kasi may iba silang tampuhan.”

So you have to know those things so that you can understand and be a better senator.

I mentioned this because I am the second most senior senator now in the Senate. I come from the 13th Congress, Sen. Loren Legarda started in the 11th Congress. Nag-umpisa siya 1998 with my father. Yung ‘seniority’ is because of the number of years we’ve been senators. I am the second most senior senator, so I have on my shoulders a very important role to play, because every time there are new senators, or junior senators, I feel that ‘wow, the baton has passed.’ I am holding that baton now.

So to answer your question, kung saan ko ilalagay ang sarili ko? I think my most important role is to be a role model in the Senate, to ensure that we pass meaningful laws, to always fight the good fight, to not get tired to discuss issues kahit bugbog na… sa talo… to continue to find inspiration and strength to keep on fighting these good fights because that is what I was elected for, and that is my role.

So how I will do that? I think it’s quite simple to just look at my track record. I was in the minority, from what I recall, it was just one Congress, and I think it wasn’t even a whole Congress kasi nagkaroon ng parang coup at that time. I cannot even distinguish the role I played whether majority ako or minority because I was grounded on a very simple principle: I do my best, I fight for the Filipino people.

So significantly enough, as minority, one of the landmark laws I passed was the Expanded Senior Citizens Act (RA 9994). So it didn’t really matter na pinasa ko yun as a minority because it was a good law to support. And as you can see, I was in the majority [in the 18th Congress], but I was the sole defender of the Sin Tax Law on its anti-vape provisions. In the final round of voting, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan joined me. Isang majority, isang minority.  So, it didn’t really matter. So that’s the role I intend to play.

The reason I gave you a lengthy explanation [is because] what matters to me is that I guide the new senators, fight the good fight, and continue to uplift the Senate and ensure that it performs the way it’s meant to perform.

Q: Preference of committee chairmanship?

SPSC: I’ve always been interested in a number of committees, which again, you’ll see by my record. I chaired Education, Health, Environment, and in the last Congress, SDGs and Futures Thinking, and Ways and Means. I also chaired the Committee on Women, Children, and Family Relations.

So, from my experience in the last Congress, kahit hindi ako nag-chair ng education and health, andami ko namang bills na tinulungan ipaganda at siguruhin na it’s a stronger bill because of my experience chairing those committees. I didn’t have to be the chairman to improve those bills. Same goes with the two adoption bills that the Senate passed. I was not the Chair of the Committee on Women and Children, but I supported the work that had to be done.

So I am in a situation where I think I have the opportunity to either go back to a committee that I formerly chaired, or take on a committee that is new to me that I would also like to explore and improve my knowledge on. So I believe at this point, those options are all available naman to me.

Basically, what I am saying is, I am in a position where, kung sa akin lang, kasi I always look at my capabilities and what are my strengths. And yun nga, sa level ng seniority ko, I may not have chaired some committees, pero may understanding na rin ako doon, pwede naman ako mag-chair nun. So basically, I think there are different committees that I can consider and I am studying what (bills) are in those committees.

Q: Have you discussed any possible committee chairmanships with Sen. Zubiri?

SPSC: Siguro bago siya mag-assign sa akin, alamin ko muna ang basis na ma-assign-an ako ng committee. Kasi like I said, I am a senior senator and have lots to contribute to the Senate, so I don’t want to just be assigned a committee. I want to also have the time to mentor other senators who care to be mentored and I also want to have time to review various bills because this is a very important time. Every new administration is important, and yun nga, I feel na pilay kami in a way that we lost so many senior, experienced senators. So parang the burden is on me and not just me, but others to step up.

So, I don’t just look at it maybe as a new senator na it’s just about the committee you’ll chair, these are not feathers in my cap. It’s really saan ako makaka-contribute?

Q: Have you discussed with Sen. Alan on whether you will be part of the majority or minority?

SPSC: I remember about a week ago, he was interviewed and asked about that, and he mentioned that I was currently abroad, which I was, to attend UNITE, which is an organization of members of parliament to fight infectious diseases and threats to global health. So hindi kami nag-usap. We have not really sat down in more detail since then kasi ang thinking namin is medyo matagal pa naman, and people deserve a break naman, nagpahinga din yung ibang senators.

So, I use my time really to prepare, to look at the bills I will be refiling, and so on and so forth.

Q: Sen Pimentel plans to build a dream minority…

SPSC: Yes, I want to talk to him also, kung matatapos tayo baka makausap ko na siya. [laughs] Balita ko andito daw siya, so kung makakausap ko siya, why not?

I think you guys know me well enough that I really don’t like politics. I just like to do my work well. So I go into this as friends, mag-uusap lang kami as friends. Ganun lang. So wala akong prepared answer, wala akong agenda.

Q: Sen. Zubiri?

SPSC: I haven’t heard from him since I left. Pero just to clarify, nag-usap sila ni Alan, and I think some people feel like kapag nakausap naman nila, I am sure kinamusta niya ako through Alan…

Q: Did it occur to you that you can run as one of the leaders of the Senate?

SPSC: Syempre naman karapatan ko naman yun, and again in all humility, may K naman ako para gawin yun.

Q: Do you have plans?

SPSC: Nakita niyo naman na-consume ang utak ko sa vape na yan, di ba? So doon ako naka-focus tapos during the break, bawi naman ako sa kids ko, although work from home allowed me to see them more, pero syempre I was working the whole time.

So you know I don’t really plan my destiny in that sense. God has taken care of me every step of the way. Kahit hindi ko pinangarap maging senador, naging senador ako. So yung mga na-accomplish ko is simply driven by the fact that God gave me brains, in-allow niya maging abogado ako, so it is my duty as a Christian to use my talents that the Lord has given me and to serve my country well, and to also honor my father in that process. I’ll just go with that and if the opportunities come about, why not? If I feel the time is right for it.

Q: Were there no offers?

SPSC: I personally didn’t really express anything, kasi nga it wasn’t really on the top of my mind really at that time.

Q: Will you refile the Absolute Divorce Bill?

SPSC: Ire-refile ko yun [divorce bill]. With all due respect to the religious community, I think they understand that there are circumstances where women in particular, but it could happen to men, of course, [that] their lives are endangered, both their mental and physical wellbeing are jeopardized. So naniniwala ako na there’s got to be more ways to save lives in that sense through more options of dissolution of marriage.

Senator Pia Cayetano
“What matters to me is that I guide the new senators…and continue to uplift the Senate and ensure that it performs the way it’s meant to perform.”

APPEAL TO COLLEAGUES: GIVE CREDIT TO ORIGINAL AUTHORS

SPSC: Yung role ko as a senior member of the Senate, I want to start with one particular aspect of lawmaking, which starts with law filing.

I would hear time and again in the last decade or so, that so and so filed 100, 300, 1,000 bills. But ang akin ganito lang, sabi nga nila it’s the height of flattery if somebody copies your work. So in terms of legislation, I believe that it is the intellectual property din naman of the one who [first] drafted it. So when I draft a bill, and I have had this experience, I know ako nag-draft nun, wala pang ibang bill na ganun, and then the following Congress, may 3, 4, 6 na. So it is the height of flattery, thank you. ‘Di ba we’re all honored when somebody says, “Can I be a co-author of your bill?” Tama lang, we appreciate it.

Pero ang sa akin lang, kung ipapa-file niyo lang din sa staff niyo ang bill na na-file na ng ibang tao, i-recognize niyo naman ang original na nagsulat nun, yung staff na naghirap doon. Most of the bills that I’ve worked on, I prepared on my own with my staff or with advocacy groups. When I do adopt a bill that has already been filed, I give credit to the member of Congress who filed that bill. And sometimes, hindi mo alam and therefore sabihin mo na lang, “I am re-filing this bill because I’m a big supporter.” Kasi for me let’s just give credit where credit is due. Nakakaloko sa tao na sabihin mo 1,000 finile mo pero 999 doon, iba naman ang naghirap. Sabihin mo lang na magaganda ang na-file so sinusupport mo, no problem.

Let’s have intellectual honesty naman. And I brought this up how many Congresses ago, nag-agree naman ang colleagues ko. But it’s a reminder to all na let’s follow it, lead by example. It’s a great way to practice honesty.

Example ko ito, the Anti-Prostitution [Bill] of 2010, obviously 2010 pa ito, at bill pa siya hanggang ngayon. In the explanatory note, I recognized that this was based on the bill first introduced by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago that failed to go into third reading.

Wala naman akong problema sa kopyahan, let’s correct that, [but] acknowledge kung kanino ka ‘kumopya.’ In the Senate, it is okay to support another person’s bill and the way you do that is you either file a similar bill, or express your support verbally. Pero kapag nag-file ka ng same na same lang at hindi ka nagsasabi, hindi ba parang medyo devious? So yun.

In fairness, it’s not one two or three, it’s a practice. Kaya reminder ko rin sa staff, I don’t think may malisya, in fairness, I don’t think anyone does it maliciously, it’s a reminder lang. I become very sentimental kapag nalaman ko na yung original author namatay na siya, so parang pinaghirapan niya yan noong buhay siya. Kunyari kapag pumasa ‘to, ako, bakit ako lang eh ang totoong nag-umpisa ng fight na yan is another senator?

Naalala ko rin nung nag-retire si Sen. Nene [Pimentel]. Meron talaga siyang bills na hindi natapos, so bakit ba porke retired ka lang, kalimutan na ang work na ginawa mo doon? As reporters, wouldn’t you want to know that? Usually maririnig mo lang yan kapag nag-abala ang staff na nag-research doon sa sponsorship speech ng chairman, o kaya magbuhat ng bangko ang isang senador. Pero kapag walang ganun, sayang naman diba? We’re all a product of our history, so let’s just acknowledge it. Yun lang. #

Senator Pia Cayetano
“I am the second most senior senator, so I have on my shoulders a very important role to play [in the 19th Congress].”

Pia files first 10 bills in support of PH development goals

Returning senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed her first 10 bills in the Senate with the aim of fulfilling her campaign promise to champion legislation that will help achieve the country’s development goals. 

Her proposed measures, Cayetano stressed, are anchored on the government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations (UN) Member-States, including the Philippines, in 2015.

The PDP 2017-2022 is the first medium-term plan launched by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) under the Duterte administration, leading to a vision known as “AmBisyon Natin 2040,” where Filipino families are seen to enjoy a “strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life” in 25 years.

The SDGs, meanwhile, are a collection of 17 global goals set by the UN General Assembly, with strategies geared towards improving health and education, reducing inequality, spurring economic growth, and addressing climate change.
In line with these goals, Cayetano filed her first batch of bills in the Senate and plans to file more measures in the coming weeks to address challenges hindering sustainable and inclusive growth for the country. 

Furthermore, she vowed to continue focusing on her long-time advocacies as a legislator, including education, health, women and family welfare, and sustainable communities.

Among Cayetano’s priority measures are:

1. Alternative Child Care Code of the Philippines 

2. Educational Roadmap Act 

3. Priority Health Infrastructure Act (Build, Build, Build for Health)

4. Priority Infrastructure for Public Higher Education Institutions Act (Build, Build, Build for Education)

5. Sustainable Cities and Communities Act

6. Sustainable Transportation Act

7. Act Recognizing the Foreign Decree of Termination of Marriage

8. Amendments to the Family Code of the Philippines (to ensure the equality of men and women under the laws of marriage and family relations) 

9. Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act

10. Act Providing for Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education (Teachers salary increase)


“We already have a set of goals that we envision for future generations of Filipinos. What we need is a comprehensive action plan to ensure that our goals will be met,” Cayetano said.

“For my part, I will continue what I started since my first term as a legislator and push for more laws to empower Filipinos through education, proper healthcare services, children and family welfare policies, and sustainable development,” the senator concluded.#

Recognize role of mothers as unpaid family workers

Favors bill seeking to compensate stay-at-home mothers

Senatorial aspirant Pia S. Cayetano on Thursday expressed support for the measure recognizing the important role of Filipina mothers, saying that stay-at-home moms deserve to receive compensation as society’s ‘unpaid workers.’

In an ambush interview with reporters in Naga City, the Taguig City Representative was asked about her stand on House Bill 8875, which seeks to provide P2,000 monthly subsidy for housewives and stay-at-home mothers. 

“Naniniwala ako na dapat may katumbas na halagang binibigay sa ‘trabaho’ ng mga nanay,” Cayetano responded. 

“I have always said that the woman is the unpaid worker. Mothers do not get compensated for the work that they do in their homes,” she added. 
Meanwhile, the congresswoman said there are different ways by which the government could provide support to Filipina mothers taking care of their families. 

“(The subsidy) could be monetary, it could be non-monetary. But at the end of the day, what I want is to give women more opportunities to earn income for their families even from the comfort of their homes,” she said. 

“We have to acknowledge the contribution of women to our country’s economy. This is why we need to help them, particularly the mothers, by giving them enough support.”

On the other hand, Cayetano said mothers can also be assisted by the government by giving them access to information and services on responsible family planning. 

The principal author and sponsor of Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, Cayetano said mothers should be given the opportunity to make responsible decisions regarding the number and spacing of their children. 

She said a fully implemented RH Law is needed to effectively and sustainably lift people from poverty. #

Senatoriable Pia S. Cayetano meets with mothers and youth leaders in Naga City to discuss her advocacies to make Filipino families’ lives better and more comfortable.

Pia joins 50-km all-women ultra marathon in Cebu

Lawmaker and running enthusiast Pia S. Cayetano was one of more than three hundred female runners who joined the 50-kilometer All-Women Ultra Marathon (AWUM) held in Cebu City over the weekend.


The long-distance running event, which started on Saturday at 10 pm and ended early Sunday morning, is held annually and exclusively for women by running organizations in Cebu tocelebrate International Women’s Month.


A staunch advocate of health, sports, and women’s empowerment, Cayetano joined 351 fellow women during the eighth edition of the run organized exclusively for women endurance runners. This is her third time to join the event.


Upon reaching the finish line before 6 am on Sunday, Cayetano congratulated her fellow women participants who braved the long route around the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu.


The Taguig City lawmaker and Nacionalista Party senatorial candidate even had enough strength to do her trademark headstand at the finish line where she was applauded byorganizers and fellow runners.


“For the third time, 50 kilometers! Congratulations to all the women out there! I draw my inspiration from all the women [who ran with me.] That’s why I can do this race, because of all the women. Their energy [motivates me],” Cayetano explained.


She also thanked the organizers for putting up a successful event, the proceeds of which will be donated to the Cebu Hope Center, a home for sexually abused children.


The principal author and sponsor of pro-women laws like the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) and the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act (RA 10354), Cayetano hopes tocontinue fighting for initiatives that empower Filipinas, particularly by providing them with good health, free choice, and equal opportunities. #

Festive mood at the starting line of the 8th All Women Ultra Marathon at The Terraces, Ayala Center in Cebu City.The long-distance race started at exactly 10 pm of Saturday, March 9.

Still full of energy after finishing the 50-kilometer ‘ultra’ marathon race course, House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano does her trademark headstand at the finish line in Ayala Center, Cebu City.

Pia reveals ‘3 gifts’ for women on Int’l Women’s Day

Good health, free choice, and equal opportunities.
These are the three ‘gift’ every Filipina deserves to receive and enjoy, senatorial candidate Pia S. Cayetano said on the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8.


“Dahil espesyal ang araw na ito, gusto kong ipaabot sa bawat Pilipina ang tatlong mahahalagang regalong ito: Gift of Health o Kalusugan, Free Choice o Malayang Pagpili, at Equal Opportunities o Patas na Pagkakataon,’ Cayetano said in a speech delivered in a mix of Ilonggo, Filipino and English before thousands of political supporters at the PDP-Laban rally in Victorias City, Negros Occidental on Friday,
Firstly, the Taguig representative stressed the need to provide quality affordable healthcare services for women employees, given the dual role they play as mothers and members of theworkforce.


“Gusto ko pong mabigyan ng malusog na pangangatawan ang ating mga nanay lalo na pagkatapos manganak. Mahalaga ding makaiwas ang inyong mga anak sa anumang sakit,” shestressed.
The staunch health advocate then cited two laws she authored on maternal and child health, namely, the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law (Republic Act 11210), which was signed recently by President Rodrigo Duterte, and the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act (Republic Act 10152).


Furthermore, Cayetano said women deserve to be accorded the ‘Gift of Free Choice,’ particularly in planning the number and spacing of their children and preparing for their family’sfuture.
According to Cayetano, this was her inspiration in fighting for the passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act in 2012 (Republic Act 10354). The law grants Filipino families, especially the poor, free access to family planning services and commodities.


Meanwhile, recognizing the crucial role of women in sustained economic growth, the congresswoman expressed her commitment to continue championing initiatives that provide equal opportunities for women in the workplace.


“Dapat po ay husay at abilidad ang basehan para makapag-trabaho, hindi ang kasarian o edad ng isang tao,” stressed Cayetano, who also authored the Anti-Age Discrimination inEmployment Law (Republic Act 10911), which primarily seeks to help women who become victims of age discrimination in job hiring and employment.


“This is my message to all the hardworking Filipinas this Women’s Day. Mananatili po akong handa na maglingkod sa inyo at sa inyong mga pamilya. We will keep working hard to ensure for you these three gifts, not only on Women’s Day, but every day of every year,” Cayetano concluded. #

Pia hails Barangay Health Workers on Women’s Month

Statement on Women’s Month by Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano (Taguig City, 2nd District)

Today marks the start of Women’s Month, a celebration that highlights the contributions of women in building stronger communities and a better nation, one where every family is welltaken care of and nurtured.


It is the most perfect time to recognize the different roles women play in our society – as vital members of the workforce, as government’s partners in social welfare, and as mothers who rearthe next generation of Filipinos.


We particularly should acknowledge our real-life Pinays In Action, our barangay health workers (BHWs) whose commitment to protect the health of our children and families is truly unparalleled.
In 2017, women made up 98 percent (272,315 out of 276,919) of the total number of active BHWs in the country. These Pinays In Action are the frontliners of our health programs.


Now, at a time when our country is hounded by grave concerns like the decline in parents’ confidence in vaccines and the ensuing measles outbreak in some provinces, these same women are the ones working at the grassroots, promoting children’s health and convincing parents to have their kids immunized. It is therefore our honor to pay tribute to our women health workers during this month-long celebration.


On a last note, and for our part, we assure all fellow Pinays in Action that we will continue to champion initiatives that uplift the lives of Filipinas and their families. We already started our fight in Congress, through the passage of key legislation like the Reproductive Health Act, Magna Carta of Women, and the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law, which was recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. We intend to achieve more in the years to come, inwhatever capacity as advocates of women, the family and community. #

Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano addresses Barangay Health Workers and local government heath officers and personnel at the Oplan Alis Tigdas assembly organized by the provincial government of Pampanga.

Bicam approves Expanded Maternity Leave Bill!

Statement of Deputy Speaker and Taguig City 2D Representative Pia S. Cayetano

Principal author, House Bill 4113

“I have very good news because the on this day, the Senate and the House met to discuss the disagreeing provisions of our Expanded Maternity Leave Bill. We have come to our final version, which is a 105 Days Expanded Maternity Leave Bill.  All that is left to do is to bring this measure back to our respective Chambers for the members to concur with, before sending it to Malacanang for approval.”

“In a nutshell, we now have 105 days of maternity leave, and seven (7) of those days may be given to the father of the baby, since the recommendation under the ILO (International Labor Organization) is at least 98 days. So a mother has the option of giving seven days to her partner.

“In addition, we will have extended maternity leave not just for those in the public sector, or those working in government, but also the private sector, the informal sector (yung mga self-employed din basta nagbabayad kayo ng SSS – SSS will cover a fraction), and then the employers will pay for the difference. Athletes are also covered.

“We also tackled a number of other clarifications to ensure that it’s very clear that a maternity leave can be availed of anytime before giving birth or after. Some people go on leave, let’s say five days, or thirty days before (giving birth), so that would all be covered.

“After so many years, this bill will soon become a law. This was my ‘baby’ ever since I was in the Senate. My team and I wrote the original version (Senate Bill 2982, which was passed by the Senate on third reading in the 16th Congress), that’s why I’m very familiar with the provisions. And so I take the opportunity to thank my team: Those who started in the Senate, and those who are still with me now, for the work that you put in to make this pass. Thank you to those who helped push for the measure, including my colleagues and all the advocates who had been supporting this ever since. I’m so happy with the outcome of this bill.” #

Pia brings message of hope to community gutted by fire

House Deputy Speaker and Taguig City Representative Pia S. Cayetano on Thursday personally visited a coastal community in Davao City where some 300 families lost their homes to separate fire incidents earlier this month.

Cayetano, who was in Davao City over the weekend to attend the convention of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) regional party, took the opportunity to visit the fire evacuees who have taken refuge at the covered court of Brgy. 76-A in Bucana, Davao City.

Two fire incidents that happened only days apart (August 7 and 9) struck separate areas in the barangay, rendering nearly 300 families there homeless.

Aside from offering emergency relief assistance to the evacuees in coordination with the office of foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (the Deputy Speaker’s younger brother), Cayetano also offered her message of hope that the residents would soon be able to rebuild their homes.

“I have never experienced losing my house to a fire, and so I could never claim to know the extent of the pain that all of you are now going through. But I have experienced how it feels to lose an important part of my life, two members of my family, and so it is through conversations like these that we are able to relate with and support each other,” she told the evacuees.

“Tragedies can strike anyone, anywhere, and sometimes at the most difficult time. It is during these moments that our faith gets tested. But we just have to continue to persevere and recover, even if it means rebuilding from scratch. We do this not only for ourselves, but also for our loved ones and children,” she stressed.

The Deputy Speaker also had a surprise for the children evacuees whom she treated to ice cream.

Cayetano also thanked Barangay 76-A leaders and community volunteers whom she urged to take good care of the most vulnerable among the evacuees, including women, especially nursing mothers, young children, and the elderly. #

Cayetano addresses evacuees of Brgy 76-A in Bucana, Davao City